UCL Alumni


At the helm of a global business with Linda Zhang

From finding a graduate job to setting up her own business, alumna Linda Zhang explains how UCL has supported her to succeed.

UCL alumna Linda Zhang speaking on stage at event

29 May 2023

YouTube, Bilibili, TikTok, Sony Music, Suntory: these are just some of the social media platforms and brands that Linda Zhang (BSc Economics 2015) works with as the co-founder and CEO of the multi-channel network (MCN), creator management and digital marketing agency, UniFuture. 

Linda, who splits her time between China and London, established UniFuture as a side project in 2018 after identifying a business niche. “At that time, I noticed in China that short-form video (60 seconds or less) was taking over and the marketing landscape was dramatically changing. Brands would need to change how they interacted with their audiences – but they might not know how.” UniFuture serves as a bridge between China and the rest of the world, helping brands unlock the Chinese market and working with Chinese brands who want to expand their influence into global markets.

By 2020, Linda felt ready to commit to her business venture full time thanks to the extensive professional experience she’d acquired since graduating from UCL, having worked as the Chief Operating Officer for FisherITS, the London based IT and software asset management advisory and services firm, and in operational and financial roles at Deloitte, Morgan Stanley and Ernst and Young.

Starting a business is an exciting endeavor, but it can also be daunting, and it requires the right mindset, as well as knowledge. Linda describes the transformative role her UCL education played in helping her take the plunge from employee to entrepreneur. "At UCL, I learnt how to think with a disruptive mind. This helped me to never set limits on myself and gave me the courage to start my own company.”

The roots of success

Having been raised between mainland China and Hong Kong and studying at high school in Boston in the US, the decision to study at London’s Global University seemed a natural next step for Linda. The prospect of studying economics in London, the world’s global financial hub, was also a huge draw. “There are so many banks and financial companies in London. I knew there would be opportunities for me as a graduate,” she explains. 

Linda’s degree in economics proved to set her up for life after graduation. “I gained so much knowledge that I could bring to interviews and I was able to get my first job at Deloitte. My degree enabled me to follow the career path that I have.”

At UCL, Linda was able to nurture her interests alongside her studies. In her first year, she was invited to participate in the economist and journalist Stephanie Flanders' BBC programme, Stephanomics, discussing Sino-British trade. She was also the creative force behind the UCL Chinese New Year Gala as the event’s chief director. Linda believes this was in some ways a catalyst for her subsequent decision to set up a business in the media industry. She says: “It was a wonderful experience that revealed my passion for entertainment, events, media and the arts.”

Linda at her graduation in 2015. 

Combining passion and profession

In her role at the helm of UniFuture, Linda combines her interest in arts and culture with her background in finance and business. Since the company’s foundation, she has introduced more than 1000 global thought leaders and influencers from TikTok, YouTube and Instagram to Chinese social media platforms such as Bilibili. Linda attributes her ability to work successfully across countries, languages and cultures to the richly diverse and inclusive environment she experienced at UCL.

Looking ahead, Linda is interested in harnessing the power of new technologies in her business, including artificial intelligence (AI), virtual reality and augmented reality, and is planning to build an AI lab in her company. She says: “I think the future of content is immersive video and immersive experiences. We will be looking to help brands engage customers in entirely new ways.”

She adds: “When these technologies are mature, I think they will help protect consumers from fake goods and fake marketing. I want the work of UniFuture to reduce misinformation and make content more authentic.”

UCL alumni: a superpower of knowledge

A strong believer in the power of the global UCL alumni community, Linda connects with her peers across the globe who work in the AI sector to help her learn about emerging technologies. “As I didn’t study AI at university, my knowledge and my inspiration actually come from talking to fellow UCL alumni who are experts in this field,” she says.

Linda makes the most of the UCL alumni network by attending alumni events. “As an entrepreneur, the alumni network is a vital hub for information. Your knowledge widens as you have contacts working across sectors and industries; it’s like having eyes in lots of different places.” 

Linda at an alumni reception in Hong Kong in May 2023, alongside fellow alumni and UCL's President & Provost Dr Michael Spence AC. 

Paying it forward

In August 2021, Linda co-founded the UCL Chinese London Alumni Club as a way of helping to support and develop the UCL community. Now the club chair, Linda says: “I benefitted a lot from UCL and giving back is my way of creating a sustainable future for my UCL peers and future generations.”

When she’s based in London, Linda, along with other alumni volunteers, organises a programme of activities and events to connect the Chinese community at UCL.  She's also assisted the UCL Student Recruitment team during trips to China to meet prospective students. She says: "Through the club, we’ve created a UCL ecosystem that connects prospective students, current students and alumni with each other to share knowledge and find support.” Previous events have focused on professional development, from networking events to startup competitions. She is now working on plans for a leadership conference at UCL.

Linda believes that volunteering also benefits her. “It helps me to keep learning and meet new people who inspire me.

“You can always learn from someone and discover valuable information because everyone is from the best university!”